Next up in our A-Z tour series, Jordan Leaver shares his dream tour of European football:
My A-Z Tour of European Football:
As a young (just about) 22 year old Darlington fan, I have a whole range of stadiums to visit on my wish list. Unfortunately my team hasn’t ever tasted continental Football, I’ve dreamt of such events, but instead I have to come to terms with away trips to Curzon Ashton and Stalybridge Celtic for the time being! Interestingly, I’m currently studying in Sweden for 2 years, so I’m normally found hovering around my local team, Lunds BK, who play in the Swedish 4th Division, occasionally I’ll take the short trip to nearby heavyweights Malmö FF, definitely worth a visit! My A-Z selection is a fruitful mixture, I have the obvious ones which one day I hope to visit, and the obscure ones which would make for a fantastic trip out! Here’s my list…
A trip to the Basque Country to kick off! Bilbao is a passionate football city and the San Mamés has been a fortress over the years with a selection of talents all coming through the ranks. I better hurry up though if I want to go and witness a masterpiece from Aduriz!
An obvious choice, but for obvious reasons. Every Football fan dreams of being in that big yellow wall! I best not tell them though that I was actually at Anfield last season for ‘that’ Europa League game. I’ll keep that one on the low!
One slightly closer to home, Celtic Park always provides a great passionate atmosphere regardless of its opposition. Brendan Rodgers has them going forward now so I’m sure Champions League nights in the Group Stage are on the horizon again!
I had to include atleast one Swede on the list! Swedish teams actually recieve good crowds despite their performance in UEFA’s coefficients. Djurgårdens are one of Stockholm’s big 3 and their rivalry vs AIK is a passionate affair, known locally as the Tvillingderby.
There’s just something fascinating about this stubborn Eibar team. They manage to perform beyond expectations each year in La Liga, with one of the smallest budgets in the league, they were occupying the Spanish 3rd tier just 4 years ago as well!
Rotterdam’s finest haven’t had much success in recent years, but they’re challenging for the title again this season. Despite their tepid results in previous years, support has always been high for van Bronckhorst’s side in the Eredivisie!
A choice of 3 from the picturesque Istanbul, Galatasaray have picked up a few notable European scalps in recent years with their hostile atmosphere! A match-up with Feyenoord has always been a spectacle, something I want to experience one day!
My German soft spot. Despite being one of Berlin’s most prominent sides, Hertha have always struggled to keep up with the likes of Bayern and Dortmund, and they haven’t won a title since 1931! But like most German sides, their support has been unanimous over the years.
I think I spelt it correctly. ÍBV play in Iceland’s top division and their ground only holds 2,300, but they play in the shadow of a spectacular rock face, it’s well worth a quick research, it just means that I had to sacrifice Internazionale.
Juventus continue to dominate the Serie A as many other Italian sides such as the Milan teams struggle to emulate their previous successful periods. A visit to the Turin derby is something that would make for an exciting weekend trip.
I’ve kept an eye on Konyaspor for over a year now, they had an excellent season last year finishing in 3rd place, their best ever finish. On top of this, they are one of the best supported clubs outside of Istanbul with crowds last season averaging nearly 16,000.
Their Dortmund-esque banners are often one of the main attractions to Legia. Warsaw’s most dominant force are one of Poland’s most successful in recent years, much to the demise of their city counterparts Polonia as well as Wisla who are in a sorry state of affairs right now.
I advertised Malmö in my description earlier so I thought I’d choose another team for M. Marseille need no introduction as one of France’s most successful clubs. A ‘Le Classique’ vs PSG is a derby I’ve wanted to see for a long time.
The Stadio San Paolo is Napoli’s forbidding fortress, they haven’t won the Scudetto since 1990 but they’re often in the mix along with the other usual faces, it’s definitely not a stadium with a quiet atmosphere!
Slovenia isn’t often the no. 1 choice for Football but Olimpija fans have seen their club go through thick and thin over the years, all in the shadows of their main rivals from across the country – NK Maribor. This derby of Slovenia between the sides is one of the standouts from the Balkan countries.
The Estadio Dragão has a nice eye-catching design and houses one of Portugal’s most successful clubs! They’ve had their fair share of good players coming through as well, one of Europe’s biggest hotspots!
One of the obscure letters, which sounds like a good time for a nice trip to sunny Malta! Qormi have never won the Maltese Premier League, nor have they ever played in Europe, but they are nicknamed the “Tazmanian Devils”, and their main rivals are called Zebbug Rangers, why not?
Red Star (Crvena Zvezda) are one of Eastern Europe’s most famous assets. They’d do well to eclipse their 1991 European Cup win in this current Footballing climate where their top talents are picked up early on from teams abroad, but the club still remains at the heartbeat of Serbian Football alongside their bitter rivals Partizan.
Another of the Portuguese big 3, Sporting CP haven’t won a title since 2002, mainly because of their arch rivals, Benfica and their improvements in recent years. Sporting are still a club with a great desire and have one of the most famous academies in Portugal, producing some of their greatest talents.
Now, here’s an obscure team with a picturesque football ground. They won the Slovakian title for the first time in 2016 but their stadium, Štadión na Sihoti, is overlooked by the Trenčín Castle with some very nice views, probably worth an explore!
These Hungarians are not a household name today, but they were one of the most successful European clubs in the 1960’s and they reached a European Cup Semi-Final in 1974! They now battle it out with a number of successful Budapest teams including Ferencváros who they share a considerable rivalry with.
Another team with a formidable home record, Vojvodina have often played third tail to Serbia’s big 2 teams from Belgrade, but they are the country’s most successful club outside the Capital and their fans make the Karadjordje Stadium a cauldron of noise when the visitors arrive!
The city is more famous nowadays for it’s cheap weekend breaks as opposed to it’s Football Team which was once one of Poland’s finest showcases. They also compete in a derby with their city rivals Cracovia, with probably the best name for a rivalry – “The Holy War”.
Xanthi may not be a familiar name to most, but they do begin with ‘X’ which is very helpful! They’ve had a good season in Greece so far and will be hoping to sneak a Europa League spot for next season, there is also some nice hills as a backdrop to the stadium too!
It’s quite hard to believe that the main team from Bern have not won the league since 1986, but their fans continue to rally their support for the Swiss outfit. They are an ever-present name in Europe having competed in 11 of the last 13 seasons in either the Champions League or Europa League.
Bosnia’s most successful club, Željezničar have taken the Bosnian Championship 3 times in the last 7 season. They share a rather siginificant rivalry with city rivals FK Sarajevo, one of the the most historic rivalries in the Balkans. They also reached a UEFA Cup Semi-Final in 1985.
You can follow Jordan on twitter @Jordi_Albatraoz
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Next up in our A-Z tour series, Brondby season ticket holder Andreas Van Maarschalkerweerd shares a cracking A-Z tour of European football!